Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday vetoed a bill that would have exempted commercial bingo halls from the state's year-old workplace smoking ban, saying he was fearful such legislation would prompt a rush of similar requests.
Glendening also vetoed a Carroll County development bill that he said would lead to sprawl and impede a statewide growth-control measure he plans to introduce next year.
Conspicuously missing from yesterday's veto announcement was any mention of the fate of a Baltimore school-funding bill that has pitted Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke against state legislative leaders.
The governor is leaning toward vetoing the bill at the mayor's request but wants to secure promises from Schmoke first, government sources said. The bill would dictate how the city school system must spend $5.9 million in state aid and require it to cut salaries of top school administrators.
Legislators passed the measure after growing frustrated with the slow pace of school reform in Baltimore. Schmoke, however, has urged a veto so the school system can use the money as it sees fit.
The governor sided with opponents of smoking yesterday in vetoing a bill that would have weakened the 1995 ban on smoking in public and private workplaces.
"We are committed to creating safe, smoke-free environments in all workplaces in our state," he said.
Public health officials urged a veto of the legislation, which would have exempted commercial bingo parlors from the ban.
If the bill were to become law, wrote Montgomery County Health Officer Carol W. Garvey, "it will be seen by tobacco lobbyists as an invitation to a growing list of exemptions in future legislative sessions."
The bill had been pushed by Edward O. Wayson Jr., a Glendening campaign supporter whose family owns Wayson's Bingo in southern Anne Arundel County. Wayson said he wanted commercial bingo halls to enjoy the same exemptions already provided to charity bingo games.
"I'm disappointed that we lost," he said. "It will hurt our business."
The governor also vetoed a Carroll County development bill that he said had larger implications for his statewide growth strategy.
The bill would have allowed farmers to develop up to four lots on their farms without proving that local schools, roads or water and sewer systems could handle the growth.
"This bill will encourage development in more rural areas, lead to more suburban and rural sprawl and impact local government's ability to protect natural resources," the governor said.
He said he plans to introduce legislation next year aimed at directing growth to areas that can handle it while protecting the environment.
Growth-control activists hailed the veto as a "positive message for the people of the county," said Dan Hughes, president of Solutions for a Better South Carroll.
The governor also vetoed two other bills yesterday. He rejected a bill that would have expanded the powers of the legislative auditor, saying it was costly and disruptive. He also vetoed the establishment of an advisory committee on health maintenance organizations because it would duplicate functions already filled by other state bodies.
Glendening has until Tuesdayto decide whether to sign or veto the Baltimore City schools bill, the subject of intense lobbying during the past few days.
In a recent letter to Schmoke, Glendening offered to veto the bill on the condition that Baltimore agree "within 60 days" to a plan giving the state a major role in running the city school system. He asked Schmoke to agree by July 23 to a five-year, city-state partnership proposed this year.
That proposal would create a new school board, to be appointed by the mayor and governor, and would replace the superintendent with a trio of chief executives. It was conceived as a possible settlement to a city lawsuit seeking increases in state school aid, and a state countersuit claiming the problem with city schools is poor management. The state would withhold up to $5.9 million in school aid in the coming year's budget if the deal is not reached by the July deadline, Glendening's letter says.
Schmoke participated in the negotiations that crafted the proposal, but repeatedly has said he would not agree to a partnership unless the state pledged significant increases in future school aid.
Sensing the governor's leanings, top state lawmakers upped the stakes in their battle to save the bill this week. They secured the support of the Legislative Policy Committee, a bipartisan group of House of Delegates and Senate leaders, in urging the governor to sign the bill into law.
Pub Date: 5/23/96